Fennel and Sausage Pasta Salad

I remember the very first day I tried fennel.

My Mom and I were combing the isles at Safeway looking for ingredients to inspire us. Have you ever done that? Just gone to the grocery store and walked the isles hoping that something will pop out at you? So, we fall upon a big, fresh head of fennel in the produce section; head, bushel, I’m not sure what they call it, and Mom gets an idea to mix the fennel with carrots and make a soup out of it. I’d never seen the large onion-looking thing, but after one sniff of it’s licorice smelling stalks, I agreed with her.

15 years later, and I’m still loving every chance I get to cook with fennel. The aroma, the crunch, the versatility. It’s all there, and then some. Plus, fennel is super good for you, too!

It’s strange, even though I rarely saw my family when we lived in Alberta, knowing that I’m really far away now just makes me miss them. During a recent trip to the grocery store on a day that I was particularly sad and missing home, I picked up 3 heads of fennel and made a batch of my Mom’s carrot and fennel soup. It was warm, comforting, and reminded me of home. Just what I needed to get myself out of the homesick slump.

After that, I made pasta. Lots of it.

I’ve always thought that pasta salad should be reserved for Summer, but this salad with it’s smokey sausages and sauteed onions is anything but Summer. It’s warming, snuggle on the couch and watch a movie type of food. I don’t know about you, but that’s not an activity I enjoy in the Summer.

Paired with DeLallo gluten-free brown rice pasta; my new favorite gluten-free pasta to cook with, and you have one incredible Fall meal to share with the family. The great thing about DeLallo gluten-free pastas is that it doesn’t get that strange crunch, stale-like quality after it’s been refrigerated. If you’ve made pasta salad with gluten-free pasta, you know exactly what I mean.

Without further adieu, let’s get this (fennel) party started!

This recipe was developed for DeLallo Foods and is featured in the DeLallo gluten-free recipe archives.

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5.0 from 3 reviews
Fennel and Sausage Pasta Salad
Recipe type: Gluten-free, Dairy-free, Sugar-free, Yeast-free, Corn-free, Nut-free
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 4 servings
Setting the stage for Fall, this gluten-free pasta salad is bursting with the seasonal flavor of fennel and guarantees to have a bit of meat in every bite!
  • 3 tablespoons red wine vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 2 teaspoons honey
  • 2 teaspoons gluten-free Dijon mustard
  • Zest from half a lemon
  • ¼ teaspoon sea salt
  • Pinch crushed red pepper
  1. Place fennel seeds in a large saucepan with 1 teaspoon of extra-virgin olive oil. Heat on medium-high heat for 1-2 minutes until toasted, rotating with a wooden spoon every 20 seconds.
  2. Add sliced fennel and onion. Cook on medium heat for 10 minutes, rotating every 2 minutes. Add sliced sausage and remove from heat. Set aside.
  3. Meanwhile, fill a medium-sized saucepan with water, cover and bring to a boil. Once boiling, add ¼ teaspoon of salt and fussili pasta. Cover and bring back to a boil, then remove cover and cook for 6 minutes, al dente. Strain and rinse pasta. Set aside to cool.
  4. Place all dressing ingredients in a blender and blend for 30 seconds, until oil is emulsified.
  5. Place cooked fennel, pasta and dressing in a large bowl and stir to coat. Add in chopped parsley and serve.
  6. Store leftovers in the fridge for up to 3 days.

    Fennel seeds are just as tasty as the full bulb. Be sure to toast these in the oil before adding the sliced fennel and onion. Many sausages are made with fennel, so the flavors will naturally go really well with one another.

    Saute the fennel until it’s slightly brown.

    Add the sliced sausage, and move the mixture to a large mixing bowl.

    Add the cooked pasta and stir to combine.

    Then, pour in the homemade vinaigrette (which is also really fabulous on it’s own if you want to make a double batch and keep it for salads and veggies).

    Toss the mixture with parsley, and you’re ready to go!

    I served our salads warm with a side of garlic toast for Kevin and an extra large amount of sausages for me :)

    The opinions expressed herein are those of Healthful Pursuit and are not indicative of the opinions or positions of DeLallo Foods.

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    Comments | Leave Your Comment

    1. I just had fennel for the first time a few weeks ago when I made an orange and fennel salad. It was not at all what I expected! The bf hates licorice so I was worried he wouldn’t like it but he loved it!

    2. OMG Leanne are these pics taken in your new house? I LOVE them!! I know you said the light was challenging but they look great! Oh, and strolling the aisles of the grocery store looking for inspiration? That pretty much sums up EVERY trip I take to Whole Foods!! It’s a dangerously expensive hobby… there should be a sign outside that says “Warning: If you don’t have a grocery list, enter at your own risk.” :)

    3. This is my kind of meal, I seriously am addicted to pasta any which way but add in fennel and now I am really down. I haven’t tried DeLallo’s pasta yet, have to see if I can get my hands on it around here.

    4. This looks delicious! My favorite recipe with fennel is a salad – fennel, grapes cut in half, crushed walnuts and soft ricotta. I will try this with gf pasta, too!

      • Wow, that sounds delicious, Marcela! I can’t say I’ve ever had fennel with grapes before. I’ll have to give that a try!

    5. I’ve been too unsure of how to use fennel bulbs to try experimenting with them – but this looks so easy and hearty, something both the hubs and I are likely to enjoy, that I might finally take the plunge! Thanks!!

    6. Recipe sounds fabulous! I love treating fennel like a root vegetable, but a few years ago a dear friend said that thinly shaved fennel (like with a mandolins) with similarly treated onions, etc. makes for a great salad–kind of like coleslaw. Now I use which ever method feels right at the moment, as I love any fennel recipe. I especially like your use of roasted fennel seeds in your salad. Thanks, Luanne!

    7. Hi I just came across your website when looking for healthy delicious-looking recipes to try, I made this pasta salad and it was soo good. Now I can’t say that I love the taste of fennel, but when mixed in with everything else its good. I can’t wait to try more of your recipes, love your website!!!

      • Hi Sarah – thanks for stopping in and saying hello! I’m so happy that you like my space here and that the fennel worked out for you!

    8. This sounds excellent. Love the dressing! I’m still looking for new ways to cook with fennel, usually it’s baked with cream here and that’s a bit heavy and long in duration for me. I first had it when I was living in Switzerland as a teenager but I never learned the English name for it and it took me forever to find it in the stores when I came back home.

    9. Oh my gosh! The fennel sausage pasta is so delicious. My entire family are it up – including my six year old son! And that says a lot! :-) I have been using your website regularly now for recipes for my new diet. This is definitely one of my favorite, and I eat the happy Tummy Breakfast Pudding almost every day. I want to eat it every meal. Lol. Thank you so much for this website!

      • That’s SUCH great news! Glad you all enjoyed it. I’m a huge fan of my happy tummy pudding too. There hasn’t been a day pass by where I haven’t had it. Have you tried topping it with coconut? My ultimate favorite!

    10. Hi,
      I made this for my family tonight and even my 2.5 year old son loved it! After eating it, I was thinking that adding sauteed apples to the mixture would be awesome – what do you think? Thanks for the great recipe!


      • That’s fabulous! Glad the whole family loved it. Yes, I bet apples would be really, really nice in here.

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